“Kiaorana,” everyone! It’s 10 o’clock, and I see the sun on the horizon. “Turou Turou Turou, Oro mai Oro mai Aere mai.” I ee koko!

Welcome to Rarotonga, taku Ipukarea! Two humpback whales at the entrance of the harbor greeted us. It was a sign that our presence was welcome in this paradise.

Today, one of our guests asked me about the meaning of Rarotonga. It means Raro = down, Tonga = south. Rarotonga is where I was born and where my beautiful grandparents raised me. My “Nena” sang island and gospel songs to me, and she cooked me the yummiest kai (food). She always found a way to sneak me out of timeout when I was in trouble with my uncle and aunties for not eating my dinner. I wanted chips and ice cream instead! As a child, my Grandpa made me work in the yard. He would say to me, “E Kura, aere paraku te tita,” which means, “Kura, go rake the rubbish.”

Grandpa taught me how to collect seafood and hunt Eke (octopus), and this became one of my favorite things to do for Nena’s market stall on Saturdays. They used to say that if I were not at home, I would either be in the ocean or up a tree. My childhood memories with my Nena and Grandpa are the best.

Today, our guests had four options to explorer the island. Some guests searched for endemic birds with naturalist Mike and local guide Ian Karika. Others took a tour bus around the islands. Another group enjoyed the Storytellers’ Cycle Tour.

An inland walk with local guide Jacopo was another option. We began at his home, where we sampled taro chips and taro leaf dip and washed it down with refreshing, homemade lemongrass iced tea. We walked through secret gardens, passing by different plantations where we tried local, in season fruits. We split into groups. Some went up to the ridge to enjoy the panoramic view of the southside while the rest took an easier route to Papua Waterfalls.

It was another beautiful day exploring Rarotonga.

Meitaki Maata Kia Manuia!